Conflict & Justice

Strait of Hormuz: 5 key facts


Iranian Army soldiers stand guard on a military speed boat during the 'Velayat-90' navy exercises in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on December 28, 2011.



These days, the Strait of Hormuz is like a a child of divorce caught between two angry parents. Not exactly a fun position to be in. But what exactly is the Strait of Hormuz, and why are the United States and Iran engaging in a back-and-forth war of words over it? Here are five key facts about it.

5. It is a narrow strait located between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Iran borders the Strait of Hormuz to the north, and the United Arab Emirates and Oman's Musandam Peninsula border it to the south. See the map in the slideshow above.

4. Much of the Persian Gulf relies on the Strait of Hormuz to export its petroleum and reach the ocean, making it one of the world's most important oil supply routes.

3. About 15 million barrels of crude oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz on a typical day. About a fifth of the world's oil supply goes through the strait.

2. The strait is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, and despite Iran's threats, it has never managed to cut it off completely to traffic.

1. Close to 300 people died in the Strait of Hormuz in 1988 when a US Navy missile cruiser, USS Vincennes, shot down an Iran Air Airbus A300 passenger jet over it.

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